Tuesday, December 8

Check your reciepts

We're all looking to save a little money these days, especially now that we are in the middle of the holiday season. A good place to save a little money is by checking your receipt. The picture above is the money I found in my pockets Monday after my weekly shopping trip - just over $3!

Upon checking my receipts, two 75 cent coupons were not taken off and I was incorrectly charged for an item. This isn't typical, but almost as often as not, I find something that's not quite right with my transaction.

To claim your savings, take your receipt to Customer Service and the situation is usually remedied without much hassle.

Start checking your receipts and start saving more money!

Monday, November 30

This Week's Menu

After last week's holiday meals, we'll be eating from the leftovers and simple meals from the freezer this week.

Monday: pasta primavera

Tuesday: vegetable beef soup

Wednesday: pork chops & potatoes

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: broccoli calzones

No real recipes this week. However, I'm looking for advice on making the soup using the leftover bone from last Thursday's roast. I think I'll make beef stock with it in the crock-pot, strain, then add the leftover meat and fresh veggies.

Monday, November 16

Back to Menu Planning!

Ok, I have been menu planning but not very well lately. However, I'm feeling especially organized this week so here is the plan.

Monday: pasta with zucchini & chickpeas

Tuesday: shredded pork tacos (with leftover pork from freezer)

Wednesday: chicken enchiladas (with cooked chicken from freezer)

Thursday: leftovers?

Friday: spicy beans & sausage (with beef instead of turkey sausage)

Saturday & Sunday: Leftovers, pizza or spaghetti with sweet sausage & cabbage?

Find more weekly menu inspiration at This Week for Dinner

Wednesday, August 26

Crock-Pot Conundrum

I purchased the 4 qt. Crock-Pot pictured at left this week from Target because I've been looking for a smaller slow cooker and this one is on sale for $17. I like to use my large Crock-Pot, but I think it would be easier to cook smaller portions (since it's just the two of us) in a smaller model.

However, when I brought it home I started having regrets. I decided to look at reviews online, which were mixed, people either loved it or they had an awful experience. Now I'm nervous if mine will be a good egg or a bad egg.

I used it for the first time today to "bake" potatoes for supper. When I checked on them early this afternoon, the potatoes were already done and it should have taken about 8 hours on low. I'll probably make something else in it later this week before I decide, but I'm wondering if I made the right choice by buying an inexpensive slow cooker.

What do you think? What are your experiences with slow cookers? What brand do you have? Should I just use my large (5.5-6 qt) Crock-Pot for everything, like I have in the past? I read that you can put a smaller oven-safe dish in a large slow cooker to cook smaller portions. Has anyone tried this?

Monday, August 24

Menu Week of August 24

Sorry I haven't been consistent with posting my weekly menus this summer. I just haven't been able to get on a good weekly schedule for a while. It's not like summer is that different for me than any other time of the year, but I guess it just feels more laid back so I'm more likely to let things slide.

Anyway, here is my plan for this week. It includes some new recipes, but also some favorites.

pork kebabs & couscous w/ scallion

Tuesday: pasta salad

Wednesday: loaded baked potatoes (will be using leftovers to make Baked Potato Soup for lunch later in the week)

Thursday: chicken stir-fry

Friday: calzones (from the freezer)

Monday, July 27

Menu Week of July 27

I'm back to meal planning this week. My hubby has been super busy with work, so I've just been feeding myself most evenings with whatever I can find in the fridge. However, this week looks like we'll both be home in the evenings so here is my plan.

Monday: soy-marinated flank steak & grilled zucchini

Tuesday: oven-fried chicken breasts & steak fries

Wednesday: stir-fry using leftover steak & brown rice

Thursday: mac & cheese or leftovers

Friday: leftovers or pizza

I also discovered a great resource for meal planning ideas today. I'm sure we'll be trying some of the meals - or variations of them - soon!

Wednesday, July 15

Stocking Up

Tuesday I spent a good part of the morning in the kitchen stocking up on some essentials around here - chicken stock, cooked chicken breast, black beans and cupcakes. None of this really took much of my time - the beans were in the crock pot, while the chicken simmered on the stove over low heat and the cupcakes came from a box (cake mixes are so easy and taste so delicious!)

Split chicken breasts were on sale this week for $.77/lb. I probably should have stocked up, but I decided to just spend a couple dollars. However, with the addition of a couple carrots, celery & some onion, I ended up with two cups of cooked chicken and 12 cups of stock/broth.

I use this recipe from Everyday Food as a guide:

  • 4 1/2 to 5 pounds (about 6) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on (I only had 2.5lbs, so that's what I used)
  • 1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 carrots, quartered crosswise
  • 2 celery, quartered crosswise
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 6 sprigs parsley (I forgot to get fresh parsley, so I used dried)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1. Combine all ingredients in a 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cover with water by 2 inches.
Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook chicken until no longer pink in center and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat (avoiding bone) registers 160 degrees. about 15 minutes.

2. Transfer chicken to a rimmed baking sheet; arrange in a single layer, and let cool. (I wanted my broth/stock to be a little more flavorful and I had the time so I left the veggies in and added some leftover chicken bones I had in the freezer as well as the bones from the breasts and allowed to simmer for a few hours.) With a slotted spoon, remove and discard vegetables.

3.Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a damp paper towel. If broth is more than 8 cups (2 quarts), return to pan; reduce over medium-high heat until you have just 8 cups. (I would recommend letting it reduce a little, but as you can see, I ended up with 12 cups rather than 8.) Once cooled, refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

4. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin and bones. Shred with forks (see above) or chop chicken, as desired. Makes 8 cups (2 pounds) poached chicken and 8 cups broth.

We're cooking more with beans these days and I've found it's so much cheaper to buy dried beans and cook them myself. I started with cooking them on the stove, but then discovered they can be cooked in a slow cooker.

Here is how I cook beans:

  • Rinse beans and pick over
  • Put in slow cooker and cover with about 2 inches of water
  • Turn on high for 4-6 hours. (If you will be gone all day you could set it to low for 8-10 hours.)
  • Check after about 4 hours, if beans are starting to get tender, season with salt & allow to cook until desired tenderness. If not yet tender, allow to cook longer before seasoning.
  • Transfer to freezer containers or bags and allow to cool before putting in the freezer.